FIRESTONES

Let me tell you about the Top Ten, not the Top Ten campfire songs but God’s Top Ten, AKA the Ten Commandments. Ten timeless laws that emerged from the middle of a huge fire on a mountain and were inscribed on stones by the finger of God. They have formed the basis of countless civilisations ever since. This is Firestones. Even Hollywood made a blockbuster movie about the Ten Commandments in 1956 starring Charlton Heston and a bald bloke called Yul Brynner. I wonder how many of God’s Top Ten you could reel off. Don’t panic too much, even people who’ve spent their lives going to church struggle to list me all so let me help you out.

The first four are all about how we should relate to God. Not rejecting him, not replacing him, not cursing him and not forgetting him. The other six are concerned with how we should treat each other. Issues broadly around respect, anger, faithfulness, contentment, honesty and jealousy. The Ten Commandments are outlined in 300 words of the Bible and are well over 3,000 years old. Quite a long time ago let’s face it, so are they still relevant today? Well, humanity has written a billion laws since then but none of them have provided any kind of worthwhile upgrade to the ones that God wrote on the Firestones.

The Bible is a 4,000 year timeline of the eternal Big Story of God, his devotion to the people he created and a rescue plan that cost him the life of his son. An unending story that continues to this day and will go on and on until it is finally wrapped up when Jesus, the son of God returns. Then another story will be ignited as God himself hits the big factory default reset button on the entirety of his creation, death and decay will be thrown onto the bonfire, suffering and sickness will cease and as the Bible puts it, God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

So, let me tell you what happened all those centuries ago when God appeared in a fire on Mount Sinai to speak to a man called Moses and a famous set of laws were delivered that would lay the foundation for how society should function. People don’t really like the idea of laws these days, do they? Trendy culture says it doesn’t matter what you believe or how you live just as long as you’re sincere and true to yourself. So long as you keep it quiet and don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable by implying that their freedoms should be restricted.

Tolerance has become the watch word of our time and what a mighty mess we’re in as a result. When we airbrush God’s truth from our lives we don’t believe in nothing, we believe in anything. Now, I realise that I’d be more popular if I sat here beside the Firepit and said that God’s laws are irrelevant but unfortunately, they’re not. They are absolute not obsolete. As I said just now we live in a world of laws and there are laws that enslave people and laws that set people free, in fact Jesus said exactly that in John’s Gospel. So, let’s talk about what happened when God’s laws were written on two Firestones on the top of Mount Sinai.

Incidentally, it’s a place that attracts millions of visitors but it’s nothing special to look at. Another barren hilltop in a desolate part of the world that takes about 3 hours to climb. Yet again a reminder that God chooses very ordinary places to speak to very ordinary people about very important things. Moses was leading the people of Israel through a forty year self-inflicted desert wandering. God in his great mercy continued to pursue them, protect them and provide for them. Every day bread fell from the skies and on one occasion a supply of drinking water gushed out of a rock.

Not just that but he placed a gigantic Firelight high in the Arabian sky every night to show them the way through the desert. Now they have arrived in the Sinai region where it all began for Moses, the exact location where he encountered God in the Bushfire, a touch of the old déjà vu perhaps. So, let’s allow the Bible to speak

"On the morning of the third day, thunder roared, lightning flashed and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. Moses led the people out from the camp to meet with God and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke that billowed into the sky and the whole mountain shook violently. The Lord came down on the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses climbed the mountain."

What followed was the awesome delivery of the Ten Commandments and comprehensive instructions from Heaven to Earth about how those people should live, then the Bible says this:

"When the Lord finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two stone tablets written by the finger of God."

What’s interesting is that in the generations that followed, the Bible records the struggles and failures of people who actually broke the Ten Commandments rather than followed them. The grace and mercy of God is a constant theme throughout human history. King David, who killed Goliath as a teenager is described by God as having a heart after him but he spun a web of deceit that culminated in a complete moral collapse. He actually broke six of the Ten Commandments in one single hit and if you look deeper he probability broke all ten of them.

Before Jesus died on the cross ordinary people like you and me had no chance of looking into the face of God because we have broken his law, let alone knowing him personally but that has all changed now. Because Jesus died and rose again the firewall between God and people has gone forever. We can receive forgiveness from God by recognising that Jesus his son paid the penalty on the cross. Maybe you’ve never experienced God like that or maybe you need to go back and pick up what you left behind.

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